Yenagoa—The dissolution of Operation Famou Tangbei, OFT, a special security outfit established by the Bayelsa State Government to handle special security matters has drawn condemnation from some state stakeholders.
Expressing his views on the dissolution, King Joshua Igbagara, Chairman of the Bayelsa State Traditional rulers Council and member of the Security Council, described the dissolution as unfortunate.
He said: “It is unfortunate. It had salvaged lives and property in this state since it came on board. Before now, people couldn’t go to bed safely. Cult killings were rampant. Looting of property was the order of the day. But OFT came to save the state from these odds.”
Though the dissolution of the outfit had not been formally announced in the state because the Police Commissioner refused comment on the issues when contacted, Igbagara noted that if the news of its dissolution was real, it will be a minus for the security situation in the state.
He said: “If it is really dissolved, it is a setback to the security apparatus of the state. There may have been some complaints against OFT. These problems must have come from people abetting crimes in the state.
“To me, OFT did nothing wrong. Their alertness to duty is good. Call them any time, they are there. Except otherwise proved, OFT should stay to save lives and property of Bayelsans.”
Chief Richrad Kpodoh, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, who was the caretaker of the outfit since it came on board expressed shock at the dissolution of the OFT.
Kpodoh expressed dismay that an outfit established by the state Security Cuncil to save lives and property could be unilaterally dissolved by the Inspector-General of Police.
Describing the IG’s action as ill-informed, Kpodoh said since the IG was once the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, he is supposed to have understood the security situation in the state and appreciate what informed the establishment of the OFT
He said: “The news of dissolving the OFT by the IG came to me as a shock because it was established by the state Security Council in the state. The formation of the OFT was the beginning of peace in the state.
“Even when he, the IG was the Police Commissioner here, he knows the security situation. He is supposed to have found out the truth about the situation here before taking this unilateral action.”
He stressed that the advent of OFT in the state had reduced to the barest minimum cases of snatching of bags and Cars in the state especially around Banks in Yenagoa
The ban on the outfit, he further noted, had Political under tone, and appealed to the IG to “please let the outfit be restored to continue the restoration of peace and security in the state.
He said the role of Government about the existence of the outfits was to ensure it is motivated finance, to enable it meets its need for effective performance, and this led to the provision of Vehicles and other kits.
“The outfit is just for quick response, they don’t do stop and search. If the Police is doing what they are suppose to do, no need for the OFT”, declared Kpodoh who gave instances of how market women and other traders were raped and molested before the coming of the OFT, saying now that it has been banned Investors may be scared away as the return of insecurity would now be the order of the day.
“Investors may not come to the state again with this insecurity situation without OFT”, Special Adviser on Security re-echoed, stressing aloud that People of the state have started feeling the negative impacts of the absence of the OFT within the few weeks of its dissolution.
Further appealing to the IG returned the outfit for the sake of effective security in the state, he pointed out that “we don’t want to form another outfit, OFT should be returned.
Just like the Chairman traditional rulers Council, Kpodoh who also accused Politicians of being behind the dissolution noted that
“Those clamouring for the dissolution of the OFT are the Politicians who want to bring bad boys into the state to cause problems.
“All the Criminals that were chased out are now back again”, stated the Security Adviser who described the ban order as injustice against the state when “similar outfits are in other places but not touched”.
“I pity the People of the state because criminals are back again few weeks after OFT was dissolved”, noted disturbed Kpodoh who added “We have assisted the Police to do good job”.
Speaking in the same vain, Hon Jonathan Obuebite, representing Constituency Nembe I state House of Assembly say the “the Inspector-General of Police has compromised the security of Bayelsa state.
According to him, the introduction of OFT has taken care of 80% of security in the state, and pointing out that even if there are excesses by the outfit “we have an internal mechanism to control their excesses”.
“No Bayelsan has come to complain about OFT excesses to me or to the Assembly.OFT has brought sanity. Before now, people cannot comfortably move about, people were robbed, but now OFT has taken care of all these.
OFT came on as a result of the situation we find ourselves.
As a member of the state Assembly, we are in a position to tell the people about it.
“We are totally against the dissolution. The IG was not properly informed about the situation here, he should have looked into both sides of it before taking the decision, it is against the yearnings of the People, we are pleading that he should resend the decision”, stated Obuebite who advised that a stake holders meeting be convened to know the feelings on the People an outright dissolution should be effected.
THE Lawmaker who also viewed the dissolution from Political perspective however noted that “I wouldn’t want to read Political meaning to it, but it’s not far from it”.
He noted that the dissolution of the outfit has further rekindled the call for the establishment of state Police, arguing that state police would take proper care of internal security in the states as indigenes of the state would know more about the security situation than people from outside the state.
“We need state Police because what works in Sokoto cannot work here. Officers not from here may not understand what is obtainable here, so that with state Police all these happenings may not be experienced”.
Also commenting on the issue, Hon. Daniel Igali representing Southern Ijaw Constituency 3 in the state Assembly, angered by the dissolution of the outfit vowed to raise a motion in the House to condemn the dissolution of the OFT.
Igali noted that the state Government has spent enormous resources on security because security is the bed rock of any society.
“With Operation Famountamgbei i can open my doors and sleep well but now that it has been banned fear of insecurity has returned again”, noted the Lawmaker who also appealed that “We want to know why it was band. With the rampant activities of Boko Haram in the Country, there is need to have an outfit like OFT in the state. I will raise a motion in the Assembly
Like his counterpart, Igali also noted that the dissolution has once again given reason for the establishment of State Police Force.
“These are some of the reasons why some of us are clamouring for state Police because for not taking note of the peculiar situation in the state; we need a special security out fit like OFT to deal with the menace of Cult groups in the state”, maintained Igali.
However majority of the downtrodden in the society interviewed sees the existence of the outfit as a sad situation that had thrown the freedom of the people to the dogs.
“People were kept in perpetual fear and psychological torture. Raids were carried out by the banned outfit like the days of apartheid South Africa. Virtually everyone in the state was seen as a criminal. You need to go and see how people are tortured in the torture chambers at the headquarters of the outfit in Yenagoa.
We thank God that the IG has banned it, the Police can maintain the needed peace in the state”, said a stake holder who craved for anonymity.
Also commenting on the need to convene a stakeholders meeting on the issue, Comrade Ebikibina Miriki , the National Youth Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria noted that the state Government should convene a stake holders meeting irrespective of Political inclination or class, religion or ethnicity in the state”. This, according to him is important in order to maintain the relatively peaceful atmosphere in the state.
He said the security situation in the state should not be left solely in the hands of Government, and decried the manner the ousted OFT outfit was operating in the state.
Meanwhile, conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, and Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO, in Bayelsa State, yesterday, described the disbandment of the dreaded Bayelsa special security outfit, Operation Famou Tangbe by the Nigeria Police as a “welcome development.”
They called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim to set up a panel to investigate alleged cases of extra-judicial killings by the outfit and advocated orderly room trial of its personnel.
While CNPP said though the intention for setting up the security outfit by the state governor was to curtail the rising cases of criminal attacks in the state, the outfit became excessive and engaged in killing and harassment of innocent persons without due process.
CLO, through its State Secretary, Mr. Alagoa Morris, argued that though the setting up of the outfit and its responses to distress calls were swift and commendable, the outfit turned its office premises into a torture and extortion chamber.
He said victims were forced at gun point to undergo harrowing experiences; some who considered themselves lucky returned home maimed or injured physically or psychologically. He added that the outfit become a terror machine that made arrests indiscriminately, noting that they shoot at will and introduced a culture of fear in the state.
CNPP and CLO, in their separate positions on the disbandment of Operation Famou Tangbe, agreed that the Inspector-General of Police should investigate the activities of the outfit and set up a similar outfit with proper supervision by the state Police Command.
CNPP’s Frank Oputu said: “The disbandment is a welcome development. The outfit defeated the intention of the governor. That was not the intention of the governor. The commander and personnel of the outfit should be prosecuted and made to answer for the killings and harassment.
“We still need a security outfit to avoid any upsurge in crime in the state. Famou Tamgbe has failed the people.”